Sandy's Garden ... Clinging in the Rain

I decided at the beginning of last week I really could not further delay at least the start of planting out summer bedding plants.

Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 10:18 am

This was despite the continuing absence of “proper” late-May weather.

I took my own advice to resist impulse-buying and very consciously decided what varieties of plants I wanted to plant in the first tranche of pots from which the spent tulips were to be removed.

Opting for bedding geraniums and New Guinea busy lizzies, both varieties which we know from experience will flourish in their intended locations in our garden.

Falkirk Herald gardening guru Sandy Simpson

Decisions made as to variety and quantity we sallied forth, intending to shop for groceries.

We had a quick look at the bedding plants on offer at the supermarket and, yes, there were geraniums and New Guinea busy lizzies, the labels on the boxes of the latter revealing that they had quite literally just arrived from the nursery.

The prices were extremely competitive and the plants looked very healthy and in fine condition.

The plants were put into two of the large cardboard trays in which they had been delivered to the supermarket and placed across the top of our trolley, safely – or so we thought.

Supermarket trolley suspension systems are rubbish.

No sooner had we started to rumble across the car park towards our car than the trays positively leapt off the trolley, inverted themselves and spread their contents across the tarmac.

A young man on his way to his car generously helped me retrieve the plants, some a bit battered, which would now have to be planted as soon as possible – certainly no later than that afternoon.

This was not going to be a problem – I thought.

Wrong again! I had hardly set foot in the garden with my cardboard trays of loose young plants before I felt the first spots of rain.

I try not to garden in the rain if I can avoid it.

I try even harder not to replant pots of top-quality compost in the rain, for damp good compost has a remarkable ability to adhere to gardening gloves.

And it didn’t take long for the first few drops of rain to attract more drops. In a matter of a few minutes the rain was bucketing down. But my natural Scots canniness with money … these plants had been paid for … persuaded me to continue with my planting exercise with ever-growing difficulty as the compost clung ever-more muckily to my gloves … and the ends of the sleeves of my parka and of any parts of the cuffs of my shirt which it could access, clinging in the rain.

You may have guessed that I did not feel like dancing.

Yet the story has a surprisingly happy ending.

When, drookit, I retired indoors with the task complete, the young plants looked very sorry for themselves, limp, bedraggled, dirty and apparently not long for this world. But looking at them today – five days later – these self-same plants are sprightly, upright, clean and growing vigorously.

Have I discovered a new technique for planting up bedding plants?

Drop the packs upside-down on a hard surface, leave the plants to dry out for a few hours and then plant them in the rain.